I just arrived home from attending the 6th Annual WJA Women in the Know conference held at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NY.  My brain is reeling a bit from a weekend that was packed with various business meetings, the conference, and a lovely reunion this morning with a long-lost college buddy.

Because this was my first WJA conference, I understandably had the “first-timer” jitters…would I know where to go, would it be worth the money and time I invested, would I meet interesting people and have people interested in meeting me?  I’m very happy to say that although Friday DID feel like a long day, I came away with my head packed with ideas from some of the best marketers, web technicians and jewerly designers presenting at the conference, a fistful of business cards from the wonderful people in the industry that I met, and a renewed confidence that I’m on the right path.

Jane Seymour, Golden Globe/Emmy award-winning actress, artist and jewelry designer, started the morning off with one of the most eloquent and compelling keynote addresses I’ve ever heard.   I was amazed at her candor throughout the talk – sharing that her (now ex) husband cheated on her 14 times and left her near bankrupt, being honest about her age (57), showing us her earliest art works – made me realize that in spite of her fame, great looks and luck, she is a person who has endured much and has had to search deep within to find how to survive the difficulties she has encountered.  Her “mantra” for getting through the toughest times has been to open her heart to others through giving.   As she put so well, it is only when your heart has been broken that the light can come in (that is, if you keep it open rather than closing it off.)  Of course, this also works beautifully as a sales pitch for her Open Heart line of jewelry with Sterling Jewelers!

In keeping with that theme, the most memorable moment for me in the whole day came at lunch during the presentation and discussion with the ladies of “The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Transformed Their Lives.”  Jonell McLain (leader of the group of 12 ladies who decided to purchase a very expensive diamond necklace to own jointly and share) asked everyone in the room to take off the most special piece of jewelry they were wearing and put it on the person sitting to their right.  We were asked to explain to the recipient what made the piece special as we shared it with them.  The room literally came to life with chatter, smiles and a palpable warmth.  For the rest of the talk, I got to wear a gorgeous gold and silver “eco” necklace made with 100% recycled metals.  I placed my own handmade Cityscape Pendant (a personal talisman) on my colleague to the right.   At a time in this worrisome economy when we are all holding tight to what we have, the exercise was a great reminder of the power of giving and sharing.


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